“The artist’s job is to be a witness to his time in history,” declared artist Robert Rauschenberg. At SIFA, it’s always been important for us to present works that tell stories and facilitate conversations about timely issues in Singapore and around the world.
The past year has highlighted just how interconnected and fragile our lives are – and how our collective suffering has served to deepen our empathy with those around us. Within SIFA 2021’s line-up discover programmes that record and reckon with the current state of our society.
Healing from adversity with music
Amidst collective suffering, how can humanity search for a way forward, not just in ourselves, but in each other? Inspired by our collective experience from the depths of crisis and lockdown, the Compassion Chamber Music series invites local musical groups to perform pieces that will soothe the soul. Singaporean percussion quintet, Morse Percussion's Ghosts of Yesteryear invites you to reframe your perspective on humanity, suffering, and the journey to recovery and restoration, while Healing Rhapsody by Ding Yi Music Company features pieces centered around Memory and Zen along with a new festival commission, Compassion.
Building Conversation (Netherlands)
Few skills are as ordinary, and yet as important, as making conversation. Yet surprisingly, when it comes to tough subjects, we often falter in finding ways to express ourselves. Building Conversation seeks to illuminate a way forward, with the Impossible Conversations at SIFA 2021 inspired by the exceptional times we live in. Ponder and discuss topics like Care, Risk, Obedience, and Trust, with a group – you might find yourself slowing down, and discovering perspectives you never saw before.
Tania El Khoury (Lebanon)
Honouring and mourning the lost
“Telling the stories of ordinary people, writing their names on tombstones, and singing for them is a necessary act of resistance,” says Tania El Khoury. In her moving installation, Gardens Speak, Lebanese-British performance artist, Tania El Khoury, transports you to a garden in Syria where the victims of the Syrian uprising are buried. Listen to their stories which have been lovingly reconstructed by their friends and family and back in the memories of those who have left us and contemplate the reasons that led to their demise.
Navigating the real and the virtual
Closer to home, local art collective Zeugma’s _T0701_ explores the nebulous line that lies between the real and the virtual world, through the life of a PMD Delivery Personnel. In the digital realm, Jati is another avatar of the digital working class, lured by materialistic rewards of financial incentives and social ratings. Yet in the real world, he has to navigate a journey of life lessons while mounting on his PMD. As the line that connects the real and virtual becomes blurred, who is the enemy?
Tania El Khoury (Lebanon)
Step into the shoes of a refugee
Humanitarian crisis are on the rise around the world, increasing in scale and complexity. But what is the human cost of these crisis? In As Far As Isolation Goes, Tania El Khoury and Palestinian street artist Basel Zaraa vividly express the physical and mental states of refugees through touch, song, and interactivity. Zaraa performs heartrending songs inspired by his own journey, and the journey of his sisters from Damascus to Sweden is an intimate one-on-one online performance.
Marta Popivoda (Serbia, Germany, France)
Overcoming unimaginable circumstances
See the arc of the human spirit triumphing against unimaginable circumstances in Marta Popivoda’s new film, Landscapes of Resistance. A film that took ten years to make, Landscapes of Resistance presents the extraordinary life of 97-year-old Sonja, following her memories from her time as an anti-fascist resistance fighter, up till her escape from a Nazi concentration camp. Sonja herself sadly passed away before this film's release, but her moving story reminds us of the tenacity of the human spirit.
Climate Conversations (Singapore)
Art for climate change
As individuals who love the arts, how can we use the arts to respond to one of the greatest challenges of our time? In the workshop Toolkits for Climate Change: The Role of Art in Climate Advocacy, be lead through a contemplative journey to think about your values and personal stake in climate breakdown. Embark on an empowering exercise to consider how you can take a more active role in advocating for climate change.
To explore these timely issues in a new light, join us at SIFA 2021 and get your tickets at sifa.sg!